Louisville celebrity Ethan the dog officially joined his forever home Wednesday, bringing a happy ending to the latest chapter in his journey from abandoned dog to viral sensation.

Ethan was emaciated, dehydrated and on the verge of death when he was dumped at the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) on Jan. 29. But his visit to the facility on Wednesday was under much different circumstances.

There, a healthy Ethan was adopted by KHS employee Jeff Callaway and his family, surrounded by dozens of Callaway’s coworkers to celebrate the milestone.

Callaway said he’s happy to call Ethan a member of the family after fostering him for nearly a month.

“We’re super excited,” Callaway said. “I’m so happy this day’s here. We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”

John Boyle |

Dozens of Kentucky Humane Society employees celebrated at Ethan the dog’s adoption ceremony Wednesday.

Callaway first took Ethan home about two weeks into his recovery. Their bond became an instant hit on social media.

As Ethan’s local celebrity status grew, his condition improved as well.

“It’s really just an amazing result and accomplishment,” Callaway said. “He’s just such a strong-willed dog, and it’s just a wonderful story from beginning to the end.”

KHS veterinarian Dr. Emily Bewley wasn’t sure if Ethan would survive at first. The prospect of him joining a forever home so soon seemed even less likely.

But Bewley said Ethan is a completely different dog after five weeks of treatment. His weight has doubled, and he’s developed an affectionate, playful personality.

John Boyle |

Ethan has gone from near-death to healthy dog after five weeks of treatment.

“He’s got a little more muscle to put on in his back end, but he’s normal,” Bewley said. “He’s been neutered now and completed all his vaccinations. And there’s really nothing else Ethan needs other than a happy home, and he got that today.”

Ethan’s journey brought joy to people across the country, but KHS staff said thousands of other animals have similar stories that never get told. They hope Ethan will continue to be a symbol for animal welfare long into the future.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.